The Children’s Book Review | September 20, 2018
11 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 8-12 (and Beyond)
We’ve picked 11 middle grade books that we think are some of the best new books for preteens and tweens that released during the month of June. Here’s what you can expect to find: A coming-of-age story that explores culture and family, a gorgeous debut novel that’s perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish, a quirky and charming debut middle grade novel, a poignant debut that handles loss and renewal, a tale of family and friendship that’s sure to delight fans of One for the Murphys, and a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home!
Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?
Written by Isabel Thomas
Publisher’s Synopsis: Marie Curie was a brilliant scientist who coined the term ‘radioactivity’, discovered polonium and radium, and helped develop treatments for cancer. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, but her dedication to physics ultimately caused her death from radiation.
From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way. Launching with Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, and Amelia Earhart, Little Guides to Great Lives tells the stories of the most amazing people from all over the world and across history, with full-color illustrations and fresh design to bring their incredible stories to life.
Ages 7-11 | Publisher: Laurence King Publishing | June 5, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1786271532
Written by Mae Respicio
Publisher’s Synopsis: A coming-of-age story that explores culture and family, forgiveness and friendship, and what makes a true home. Perfect for fans of Wendy Mass and Joan Bauer.
Lou Bulosan-Nelson has the ultimate summer DIY project. She’s going to build her own “tiny house,” 100 square feet all her own. She shares a room with her mom in her grandmother’s house, and longs for a place where she can escape her crazy but lovable extended Filipino family. Lou enjoys her woodshop class and creating projects, and she plans to build the house on land she inherited from her dad, who died before she was born. But then she finds out that the land may not be hers for much longer.
Lou discovers it’s not easy to save her land, or to build a house. But she won’t give up; with the help of friends and relatives, her dream begins to take shape, and she learns the deeper meaning of home and family.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books | June 12, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524717940
Written by Amy Makechnie
Publisher’s Synopsis: A ten-year-old girl is determined to find her missing neighbor, but the answers lead her to places and people she never expected—and maybe even one she’s been running away from—in this gorgeous debut novel that’s perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.
Guinevere St. Clair is going to be a lawyer. She was the fastest girl in New York City. She knows everything there is to know about the brain. And now that she’s living in Crow, Iowa, she wants to ride into her first day of school on a cow named Willowdale Princess Deon Dawn.
But Gwyn isn’t in Crow, Iowa, just for royal cows. Her family has moved there, where her parents grew up, in the hopes of jogging her mother Vienna’s memory. Vienna has been suffering from memory loss since Gwyn was four. She can no longer remember anything past the age of thirteen, not even that she has two young daughters. Gwyn’s father is obsessed with finding out everything he can to help his wife, but Gwyn’s focused on problems that seem a little more within her reach. Like proving that the very strange Gaysie Cutter who lives next door is behind the disappearance of her only friend, Wilbur Truesdale.
Gwyn is sure she can crack the case, but when she does she finds that not all of her investigations lead her to the places she would have expected. In fact they might just lead her to learn about the mother she’s been doing her best to forget.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers | June 12, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1534414464
Written by Maryann MacDonald
Publisher’s Synopsis: Painter and sculptor Rosa Bonheur (1822–1899) led a highly nontraditional life, especially for a woman in the nineteenth century. She kept lions as pets, was awarded the Legion of Honor by Empress Eugénie, and befriended “Buffalo Bill” Cody. She became a painter at a time when women were often only reluctantly educated as artists. Her unconventional artistic work habits, including visiting slaughterhouses to sketch an animal’s anatomy and wearing men’s clothing to gain access to places like a horse fair, where women were not allowed, helped her become one of the most beloved female painters of her time. Among the artworks discussed are The Horse Fair and Ploughing in the Nivernais. Along with her life story are a list of museums that house her work, a bibliography, and an index.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Harry N. Abrams | June 5, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1419728501
Written by Lisa Jenn Bigelow
Publisher’s Synopsis: Find the confidence to rock out to your own beat in this big-hearted middle grade novel. Not to be missed by fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Drama and Tim Federle’s Better Nate Than Ever!
Melly only joined the school band because her best friend, Olivia, begged her to. But to her surprise, quiet Melly loves playing the drums. It’s the only time she doesn’t feel like a mouse. Now she and Olivia are about to spend the next two weeks at Camp Rockaway, jamming under the stars in the Michigan woods.
But this summer brings a lot of big changes for Melly: her parents split up, her best friend ditches her, and Melly finds herself unexpectedly falling for another girl at camp. To top it all off, Melly’s not sure she has what it takes to be a real rock n’ roll drummer. Will she be able to make music from all the noise in her heart?
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | June 26, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0062791146
Written by Wendy McLeod
Publisher’s Synopsis: When Sargent Singer discovers that the paintings in his father’s gallery are alive, he is pulled into a captivating world behind the frame that he never knew existed.
Filled with shady characters, devious plots, and a grand art heist, this inventive mystery-adventure celebrates art and artists and is perfect for fans of Night at the Museum and Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer.
There’s one important rule at the Beaverbrook Gallery—don’t let anyone know the paintings are alive. Mona Dunn, forever frozen at thirteen when her portrait was painted by William Orpen, has just broken that rule. Luckily twelve-year-old Sargent Singer, an aspiring artist himself, is more interested in learning about the vast and intriguing world behind the frame than he is in sharing her secret.
And when Mona and Sargent suspect shady dealings are happening behind the scenes at the gallery, they set out to find the culprit. They must find a way to save the gallery—and each other—before they are lost forever.
With an imaginative setting, lots of intrigue, and a thoroughly engaging cast of characters, The Frame-Up will captivate readers of Jacqueline West’s The Books of Elsewhere.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | June 5, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0062668301
Written by Christina Uss
Publisher’s Synopsis: A determined 12-year-old girl bikes across the country in this quirky and charming debut middle grade novel.
Introverted Bicycle has lived most of her life at the Mostly Silent Monastery in Washington, D.C. When her guardian, Sister Wanda, announces that Bicycle is going to attend a camp where she will learn to make friends, Bicycle says no way and sets off on her bike for San Francisco to meet her idol, a famous cyclist, certain he will be her first true friend. Who knew that a ghost would haunt her handlebars and that she would have to contend with bike-hating dogs, a bike-loving horse, bike-crushing pigs, and a mysterious lady dressed in black. Over the uphills and downhills of her journey, Bicycle discovers that friends are not such a bad thing to have after all, and that a dozen cookies really can solve most problems.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Margaret Ferguson Books | June 5, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0823440078
Written by Daphne Kalmar
Publisher’s Synopsis: An orphan grapples with her unpleasant aunt and the even more unpleasant idea of moving to Boston in this poignant middle-grade debut that handles loss and renewal.
“Heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time, Donut’s story is gritty, hopeful and ultimately all about the various ways that love shows up. I loved it.”–Kathi Appelt, author of the Newbery Honor and National Book Award finalist novel The Underneath
“Taxidermy? What better journey to uncover the true stuff of character! A classic, indelible debut.”–Rita Williams-Garcia, author of the Newbery Honor novel One Crazy Summer
Donut is an eleven-year old geography buff who keeps her taxidermied mice hidden in her late mother’s hope chest. Her pops passed away, leaving her an orphan. Aunt Agnes has moved in, bringing along her lumpy oatmeal, knitting, and a plan to drag Donut off to Boston forever.
Donut stands to lose everything: her friends, her village, her home, the woods, and walks where the memories of her pops are stored up.
While Donut dodges the ache of missing her pops, she and her best friend Tiny plan how to keep her where she belongs.
A Stitch in Time by Daphne Kalmar is shot through with gorgeous, evocative language, and gets right to Donut’s heart.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | June 19, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1250154989
Written and Illustrated by Chad Sell
Publisher’s Synopsis: Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier, Awkward, and All’s Faire in Middle School, this graphic novel follows a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary cardboard into fantastical homemade costumes as they explore conflicts with friends, family, and their own identity.
Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters–and their own inner demons–on one last quest before school starts again.
In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be–imagine that!
The Cardboard Kingdom was created, organized, and drawn by Chad Sell with writing from ten other authors: Jay Fuller, David DeMeo, Katie Schenkel, Kris Moore, Molly Muldoon, Vid Alliger, Manuel Betancourt, Michael Cole, Cloud Jacobs, and Barbara Perez Marquez. The Cardboard Kingdom affirms the power of imagination and play during the most important years of adolescent identity-searching and emotional growth.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | June 5, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524719388
Written by Tracy Holczer
Publisher’s Synopsis: In the midst of the Vietnam War, a young girl struggles to embrace change in this tender family story for fans of Cynthia Lord and Wendy Maas.
Lucy is a practical, orderly person–just like her dad. He taught her to appreciate reason and good sense, instilling in her the same values he learned at medical school. But when he’s sent to Vietnam to serve as an Army doctor, Lucy and her mother are forced to move to San Jose, California, to be near their relatives–the Rossis–people known for their superstitions and all around quirky ways.
Lucy can’t wait for life to go back to normal, so she’s over the moon when she learns her father is coming home early. It doesn’t even matter that he’s coming back “different.” That she can’t ask too many questions or use the word “amputation.” It just matters that he’ll be home. But Lucy quickly realizes there’s something very wrong when her mother sends her to spend the summer with the Rossis to give her father some space. Lucy’s beside herself, but what’s a twelve-year-old to do?
It’s a curious boy named Milo, a mysterious packet of photographs and an eye-opening mission that makes Lucy see there’s more to life than schedules and plans, and helps to heal her broken family. The latest from critically-acclaimed author Tracy Holczer is a pitch-perfect middle grade tale of family and friendship that’s sure to delight fans of One for the Murphys and Rules.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | June 12, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0399163944
Written by Kate Messner
Publisher’s Synopsis: Nora Tucker is looking forward to summer vacation in Wolf Creek—two months of swimming, popsicles, and brushing up on her journalism skills for the school paper. But when two inmates break out of the town’s maximum security prison, everything changes. Doors are locked, helicopters fly over the woods, and police patrol the school grounds. Worst of all, everyone is on edge, and fear brings out the worst in some people Nora has known her whole life. Even if the inmates are caught, she worries that home might never feel the same.
Told in letters, poems, text messages, news stories, and comics—a series of documents Nora collects for the Wolf Creek Community Time Capsule Project—Breakout is a thrilling story that will leave readers thinking about who’s really welcome in the places we call home.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books | June 5, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1681195360
Which of these middle grade books will you be sharing with your tweens? For more of the best new middle grade books for kids ages 8 through 14, follow along with our articles tagged with New Books for Kids, Middle Grade Books, Books for Ages 4-8, Books for Ages 9-12, and Books Of 2018.